A Virginia Tech professor whose pioneering work in developing transgenic plants gained worldwide attention has been named to a newly created federal Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and the 21st Century.

Carole Cramer, a professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, was appointed to the panel by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Venneman.

"I'm truly honored by this appointment," said Cramer. "It reflects on the great working relationship that Virginia Tech has built with the USDA and our innovative research to address real-world problems with biotechnology. The creation of this advisory committee shows an understanding at the highest levels of our government of the important role biotechnology can play for the people of our nation and the world."

Cramer is internationally recognized as a leader in the development of transgenic plants for the production of pharmaceutical proteins and vaccines. Her research has focused primarily on transgenic tobacco, raising hopes that new high-value uses of this economically stressed crop can be commercialized in the future.

"This committee will take a forward look at agriculture biotechnology and will serve as an important resource as USDA addresses emerging issues related to this field," Venneman said in announcing the formation of the panel. The committee is charged with examining the long-term impacts of biotechnology on the U.S. food and agriculture system and to provide guidance to the USDA on pressing individual issues related to the application of biotechnology to agriculture.

On the committee, Cramer joins 17 colleagues from across the country and one associated with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico City. The committee members are from other universities, from industry, and from trade groups.

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